Microsoft Windows 7 RC1

Windows 7 Release Candidate 1 (RC1) is a polished piece of work, ready for prime time

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Microsoft Windows 7 RC1
  • Microsoft Windows 7 RC1
  • Microsoft Windows 7 RC1
  • Microsoft Windows 7 RC1
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Pros

  • Early beta tests suggest that the OS will be quicker than Vista

Cons

  • Too soon to make a proper assessment of the operating system

Bottom Line

It's way too early to make a proper assessment of Windows 7, but Microsoft has made its intentions clear: Windows 7 is intended to right the wrongs Vista wrought, but retain that operating system's good points. And at this point, we can't argue with that. Our early beta tests suggest that the OS will be quicker than Vista, which can only be a good thing. We'll be updating this review as we get more information on and time with Windows 7, so be sure to bookmark this page.

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Windows 7: searching and organising

One interesting new feature in Windows 7's Explorer is called "libraries". In essence it's a way of making like content scattered in various folders easily accessible. The OS ships with several predefined libraries — for documents, music, pictures, and video — but you can create your own based on whatever criteria you choose — file type, date created, or other metadata such as music genre.

Windows 7 libraries

Libraries figure actively in Windows 7's improved search. Results are organised based on libraries rather than on file locations. Windows 7 also allows you to perform so-called federated searches — searches across multiple PCs on your network. So, for example, you might search for photos across the photo libraries of all the PCs in your HomeGroup.

Windows 7: more multimedia in more places

Once upon a time, Microsoft's approach to audio and video seemed to hinge on Windows Media Player and its file formats coming to dominate digital entertainment the way Windows dominates the PC. Instead, we live in a world where multiple approaches to media flourish, and where iTunes and the iPod, not Microsoft-based products, are everywhere.

Windows 7's new multimedia capabilities acknowledge this reality by emphasising features that help the OS play well with others — including with products that hail from a certain company named after a piece of fruit.

Windows 7 aims to streamline playback, too — so much so that it offers two different lightweight ways to consume media without employing full-strength Windows Media Player. You can listen to music and watch video by using the preview pane in Windows Explorer, without launching Windows Media Player at all.

Or you can load up WMP but work with a simple view that hides you media library and fits comfortably into a small floating window on your desktop leaving the rest of your display visible (and usable).

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